Wednesday, December 25, 2013

December Expiration Watch: This Time It's Personal (2013)

Where to begin? There are so many good and great movies expiring from Netflix Instant this month, it's the cinematic equivalent of getting hot chunks of coal in your stocking (Merry Christmas to you, too, Netflix). I haven't seen this many notable titles getting the axe since May's so-called Streamageddon. And these are only the titles I can personally vouch for, not ones that are popular but off this blog's radar. So, in light of there being simply too many movies deserving individual attention, I'll simply group them by category and add brief notes as the mood strikes:


Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) - Dick van Dyke and his magic flying car (don't quote me on this, but this title may be getting a reprieve)
In Like Flint (1967) - James Coburn gets in on the James Bond spoof industry in this second of the Flint series
Roman Holiday (1953) - See review
The Odd Couple (1968) - Matthau and Lemmon--the original Oscar and Felix
The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970) - Billy Wilder's flawed, late-career classic--and an early attempt to scrape beneath the surface of the immortal detective
Shane (1953) - Come back, Shane?
A Shot in the Dark (1964) - Peter Sellers and Elke Sommer in one of the earlier, funnier Inspector Clouseau films (before "Pink Panther" was needlessly incorporated into every title)
True Grit (1969) - Kind of creaky (I prefer the remake), but still essential John Wayne
War and Peace (1956) - Audrey Hepburn and Henry Fonda in the classic Tolstoy tale
The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967) - Catherine Deneuve (and her sister) make music with Gene Kelly, in Jacques Demy's spiritual successor to his The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Spaced Gets the Axe, Dick Spared, Garcia Smolders

Well, it looks like The Dick Van Dyke Show's absence from streaming was only temporary. The series is officially back online. That means if you still haven't managed to check out this always funny and engaging program, you've got another chance to see what made it so special and such an integral part of TV history.

But before you catch up on the shenanigans of Rob and Laura Petrie & Co., take a few hours to check out the equally groundbreaking (if not as universally known) British comedy Spaced, scheduled to expire from Instant at midnight on the 17th (that's one minute past 11:59 P.M. on the 16th, for those who get confused by such things). As I wrote back in April, Spaced is far from your average britcom, and not only helped spawn the current era of post-modern television comedy (think 30 Rock and Arrested Development), it introduced the world to the talents of Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright, and Nick Frost, who went on to make Shaun of the Dead and this year's The World's End (among many others). Less well-known but equally praiseworthy is their partner-in-crime, Jessica Stevenson, who co-wrote and co-starred with Pegg and offers a brand of endearing daffiness all her own. Made up of only 14 episodes spread over two seasons, Spaced is perfect for a binge watch before it takes its leave.